#365 Video Chat: The Next Best Thing to Being There


For many of us, the holidays mean getting ready to host or visit friends and family. If you can’t make it “home for the holidays” here are a few options to use video chat as an alternative way to stay in touch. Whenever I travel, I always try to have a video chat with my family to get the scoop on everyone’s day and say goodnight to the kiddoes.  And the best part is using these type of video chats can often keep you from having to travel in the first place.

If you’ve never done a video chat, don’t be intimidated. It’s not hard and no matter how many times I’ve done it, video chats are still very cool!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1.  Highspeed internet connection
2.  Computer or mobile device (i.e., smartphone or tablet)
3.  Webcam* or front-facing camera
4.  Microphone* or headset
5.  Video chat service

Here are the 3 most popular options for easy video conferences:

  • Skype
  • Google Hangouts
  • Apple FaceTime


Skype biggest claim to fame may is its regular voice call service (which can be used to make free, unlimited “phone calls” to other people on Skype). It’s also a great tool for doing video chats, aka video calls—either one-on-one, or with up to 10 people at a time.

  • Pros: Easy to install; lots of people already have it; one-on-one video calls are free
  • Cons: For group video calls at least one person on the call will need to have a Premium account starting at $4.99 for a day pass.

Here is a great document with everything you need to get started using Skype.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts video chats are free, making it a great choice for friends & family on a budget. Another plus is that it is web-based, so you can access it from any computer.

  • Pros: No software to install; both group and one-on-one video chats are free
  • Cons: You’ll have to create a Google+ account if you don’t have one already

Information to get started with Google Hangouts


FaceTime is designed exclusively for Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac. It doesn’t allow group video chat, but it’s very straightforward and easy to use. This option is perfect if the person you want to chat with has an Apple device too.

  • Pros: Definitely the easiest to setup and use; as easy as making a phone call
  • Cons: No group video chat; only works between Apple devices

For more details check out this “Ultimate Guide to FaceTime”


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